Cape Town - A tough task awaits the political party that takes control of the City of Cape Town after today’s municipal elections.
But more importantly for voters, today is the day that they can hold those who have been in charge for the past five years accountable at the ballot box.
Among the top items on the new mayor’s “to-do list,” according to political analysts, business lobby groups and community activists from across Cape Town, are tackling crime, updating the City’s tired infrastructure, tackling spatial apartheid hangovers and getting to grips with billing.
Cape Flats activist Roegshanda Pascoe said: On top of the to-do list is crime. That’s inevitable. Human lives are at stake and we cannot afford to play around with the issue.
“My team and I are prepared for this new dispensation. We are hopeful and people are really going to want action. We are tired of the politicians coming with the same old story.”
Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said: “A completely new Mayco must replace the tired and ineffective current one. The Mayco should be representative of more political parties and community interests.
“The new mayor should also have an audit done on the City's billing system and find the reason for the many unresolved billing issues,” said Dickson.
Amanda Gouws, political science professor at the University of Stellenbosch (SU), said the next council should look at the very dire housing needs.
She said the large expansion of informal settlements in Khayelitsha, with so many new structures being put up, and how to deliver water and sanitation to these areas should be at the top of the list.
Gouws said the communities should hold whoever is going to be in power accountable from the promises they made – promises to improve service delivery, land issues and more metro police.
"If we look at the proliferation of small parties, there are so many new small parties that we do not know, but they are known in the communities, and then we have over 900 independent candidates, which means if the turnout is low, the big parties may not get the 50% plus one of the votes and that will lead to a coalition government,“ she said.
She said they know that coalition governments were quite difficult in South Africa, because there were parties that brought hostile elements into them.
SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) provincial chairperson Bongikhaya Qhama said they would welcome a new administration with realistic and measurable objectives that would speak directly to community needs.
“We wait in anticipation for an administration that will produce accountability and transparency to deal with crime and corruption,” said Qhama.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said: “After the election the winning candidate really has to reach out in particular to the communities that didn't vote for them.
“So assuming it’s the DA candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis, he will have to attempt to be seen as an inclusive individual who reaches out beyond the DA’s support groups and strongholds and is visible and engages with communities,” said Silke.
Political scientist Shingai Mutizwa-Mangiza said the new mayor will have to understand that race and class issues in the city are rooted in historical legacies and affect all aspects of service delivery.
“We know that the official infrastructure of apartheid was dismantled with the coming of democracy, but vestiges of the system remain in the spatial injustices that continue to plague the city. The difference now was that these dynamics are blamed on market forces.”
Gugulethu Community Policing Forum's Thembinkosi Mjuza said the first thing on the list should be to update the infrastructure of the townships.
“There has been a lack of urgency and a failure to use evidence based information to update the structure. For instance in Gugulethu you’ll find there are four room houses that now have to house an average of 16 people.
“How can infrastructure which was built for a much smaller population than is the case today be expected to continue managing. Is it any wonder that the sewage systems cannot cope?” said Mjuza.
Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF) chairperson Deon van Zyl said his organisation’s top priority is seeing a business savvy City Manager appointed.
“We then expect the politicians to allow the technical experts to get on with the job. The key role of a politician is to set policy in place as well as competent systems to track performance; thereafter, they need to stop interfering,” said Van Zyl.